No sense in waiting. In the age of instant media, having tweeted and blogged my way through a 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum, I'll go ahead and jump to these conclusions:
I speculated during the offseason that the reason the Raiders were able to pass on Michael Crabtree was the presence of Schilens, who at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, is bigger, faster and performs the same role in the offense.
Schilens was targeted five times and caught five passes for 52 yards. On one pass that didn't count, Schilens got loose behind the Dallas secondary and drew a 47-yard penalty on Gerald Sensabaugh, setting up Sebastian Janikowski's 23-yard field goal.
``When you see a guy like that going up against some small corner, sometimes he battles little guys and you really get a chance to make a play,'' Russell said.
Comparing Crabtree with Darrius Heyward-Bey misses the point. You don't need Crabtree when you've got Schilens. And Schilens is getting seventh-round money while Crabtree waits to be paid better than Heyward-Bey and could be a non-factor all year.
If you're a Raiders fan, with the 49ers coming up next,
McFadden carried only four times. On his first carry, a 13-yard bolt helped negate an 11-yard sack of Russell on the first play of a drive. He exploded for 45 yards to the 17 on the last play of the first quarter.
On two shorter carries, McFadden had gains of 2 and 3 yards that ended with forward progress, rather than the familiar 2008 sight of the prize rookie going down at the first hint of contact.
McFadden also caught a 9-yard pass, and his use in that area will increase significantly.
On Oakland's first series, the drive stalled in part because of a holding penalty at the 2 by Cooper Carlisle, but it surely didn't escape the notice of Raiders fans that Justin Fargas was stacked up at the goal line anyway.
Michael Bush, meanwhile, averaged 7.7 yards on his three carries, looking much like the back who trampled Tampa Bay for 177 yards in last year's season finale.
Tom Cable seems intent on using all three backs, and Fargas is great to have around if you need him because of injury, but McFadden and Bush need more work and it has to come at the expense of Fargas.
It was far from perfect. On the first series, Russell underthrew Heyward-Bey down the left sideline, with Ken Hamlin breaking it up. And, he couldn't reach Schilens and was saved by Sensabaugh's face-guarding penalty.
But he's developed a connection with Schilens, and after being challenged by Cable to improve his timing with the wideouts, responded in a game situation.
``We had been going against the same guys, sometimes they plan for us in practice and things don't go the way we want,'' Russell said. ``What you saw was us coming out early today. Sometimes the ball was thrown before the guy came out of his break.''
Russell will need to be better than this (6-for-9, 50 yards) but it's clear the Raiders have surrounded him with enough talent to capitalize on his skills. His teammates are better, the system is better.
A key moment for Russell came when he found two receivers covered, took advantage of a pass block by McFadden and ran 18 yards for a first down.
Shedd, now a San Leandro police officer, kept beating the odds a decade ago with strong preseasons to make the roster. Rankin faces a difficult climb because of his position, but picked up where he left off a year ago.
Try 14 penalties for 107 yards, covering virtually the entire spectrum of flag possibilities.
``The biggest negative I saw was too many penalties,'' Cable said.
Considering the number of empty seats, it's possible some of the sharper-tongued fans were saving themselves for when it really matters.
Staff writer Jerry McDonald can be reached at email@example.com.